Ford Motor Company has stated that its new F-Series Super Duty pickups, first launched in September 2016, are off to a stronger than expected start. The early success of the new big pickup line has implications for Ford’s fourth-quarter earnings report to be a strong one.
Ford doesn’t break out Super Duty sales from its overall F-Series sales reports. Ford did say in a statement on Monday that total sales of the new-for-2017 Super Duty models were up 24% in November from a year ago — and retail sales were up 33%.
The retail-fleet distinction is significant. The Super Duty is popular with commercial-fleet operators, and Ford views that as good, profitable business — but retail sales are where the biggest profits-per-truck are usually realized. That’s because retail buyers tend to opt for upscale trim lines with more luxury and convenience features, and those are the most profitable trucks for Ford.
Ford’s typical practice when launching a new model is to emphasize higher-level trims in early production to maximize profitability while the product is in highest demand. But demand for loaded Super Duty trucks has exceeded the company’s expectations, Ford officials said.
High-tech features and diesel models are in strong demand. The new Super Duty comes in five different trim levels, from XL to Platinum. Generally, the highest volumes sold are seen at the lower trim tiers. But Ford said that the top three trim lines, the Lariat, King Ranch, and Platinum have accounted for 71% of retail Super Duty sales in November, and that trend has been consistent into December.
While an F-250 XL starts at $32,535, the starting price on a top-tier F-250 Platinum is about $30,000 higher, or $62,110, and options like an $8,000 diesel engine package can take that price over $70,000. Ford said that about 80% of retail Super Duty buyers have opted for the diesel so far.
Ford says that, at least so far, its retail truck buyers have been willing to pay up because of the new Super Duty’s unique emphasis on high-tech features. Features like adaptive cruise control to its big trucks by optimizing them for specific use cases, like towing a heavy trailer. And it created a special system to help guide a driver when backing up the truck to connect to a trailer.
Ford officials say they’re discovering that heavy-duty truck customers on the high-end retail side have been waiting for this kind of technology, which hasn’t been available on the biggest pickups. That’s drawing a lot of them to Ford dealers right now.
A Ford official said average transaction prices on the 2017 Super Duty since its launch have been just over $60,000, up about $10,000 from what the outgoing model was averaging before the 2017’s launch.